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Member since: Thu Mar 16, 2006, 02:07 PM
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AND THE ANSWER IS...(Do not open this thread until you have opened the thread "Let's play a game")


That's right. NYS believes Leo Tolstoy is 3rd grade reading material.

Here are the corresponding questions:

Why does the hare stop at the road?
A He is afraid of a dog.
B He is waiting for carts to go by.
C He cannot remember where he wants to go.
D He wants to play with other hares.
Key: B

Based on the story, which two words best describe the hare?
A sad and lonely
B funny and loud
C careful and playful
D lazy and unwise
Key: C

In which scene does the hare reach his goal for the day?
A when he watches peasants on the road
B when he plays with other hares in the fields
C when he eats on the threshing-floor
D when he outruns the dog
Key: C

Read the following sentence from the first paragraph:
“The snow lay in waves and glistened like sugar.”
The author uses the word sugar to show that
A the hare was thinking about food
B the snow looked sparkly
C sugar was on the snow
D the snow tasted sweet
Key: B

Then the third grader moves on to the next reading excerpt from nasa.gov about soil...(sigh)

Please discuss.

On Edit: The real purpose of posting this game is to show how ridiculous this testing has become. Starting this year, a whopping 50% of the teacher's performance evaluation is now based on the results of these tests. Even if a person could read at this level in the 3rd grade, is it truly representative of the average third grader? I think not. These tests have huge impacts on schools, teachers, school funding and, ultimately, though indirectly, the children.



Statements from Amanda Knox, her family
Published 3:18 pm, Friday, March 27, 2015

Amanda Knox released this statement through an attorney on Friday after Italy's high court overturned the murder conviction against her:

I am tremendously relieved and grateful for the decision of the Supreme Court of Italy.
The knowledge of my innocence has given me strength in the darkest times of this
ordeal. And throughout this ordeal, I have received invaluable support from family,
friends, and strangers. To them, I say: Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your
kindness has sustained me. I only wish that I could thank each and every one of you in

The attorney also released this statement from her family:

We want to express our profound gratitude to all of those who have supported Amanda
and our family. Countless people – from world-renowned DNA experts, to former FBI
agents, to everyday citizens committed to justice – have spoken about her innocence.
We are thrilled with and grateful for today's decision from the Supreme Court of Italy.
And we are grateful beyond measure for all that so many of you have done for her.


Andrea Vogt ‏@andreavogt 4m4 minutes ago Rome, Lazio
#amandaknox convictions have been completely overturned. She is a free woman.

CNN is now reporting that there will not be a retrial. They are free.

More at HuffPo:

Italian Court Overturns Amanda Knox's Murder Conviction
Posted: 03/27/2015 5:45 pm EDT Updated: 3 minutes ago

Italy's highest court on Friday overturned the guilty verdicts against Amanda Knox and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito in the 2007 murder of British student Meredith Kercher.

The court acquitted Knox and Sollecito in the murder of Meredith Kercher, a 21-year-old exchange student who was found dead in the home she shared with Knox and two other roommates in the Italian city of Perugia.

In November 2007, Meredith Kercher was discovered stabbed in the neck on her bed in the Perugia apartment. Investigators alleged that Knox, then 20 years old, and Sollecito killed Kerchner along with Rudy Guede, an Ivory Coast national raised in Perugia. Knox and Sollecito have always maintained their innocence.

This is the second time Italy's highest court has looked at the case, and the verdict ends a long series of legal twists and turns...


Germanwings Pilot Was Locked Out of Cockpit Before Crash in France

Germanwings Pilot Was Locked Out of Cockpit Before Crash in France
March 25, 2015

PARIS — As officials struggled Wednesday to explain why a jet with 150 people on board crashed amid a relatively clear sky, an investigator said evidence from a cockpit voice recorder indicated one pilot left the cockpit before the plane’s descent and was unable to get back in.

A senior military official involved in the investigation described “very smooth, very cool” conversation between the pilots during the early part of the flight from Barcelona, Spain, to Düsseldorf, Germany. Then the audio indicated that one of the pilots left the cockpit and could not re-enter.

“The guy outside is knocking lightly on the door, and there is no answer,” the investigator said. “And then he hits the door stronger, and no answer. There is never an answer.”

He said, “You can hear he is trying to smash the door down...”

MORE AT: http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/03/26/world/europe/germanwings-airbus-crash.html?_r=0

***SHOCKING REALITY*** Global Warming and California Drought - 5 images from 5 consecutive years

(I hope there isn't too much flickering going on here. I usually despise too many gifs on one page; but these are both relevant.)

Lack of Snow at Yosemite's Half Dome Captures California Drought in 5 Photos
By Zain Haidar
Published Mar 24 2015 10:50 AM EDT

The snapshots in the GIF above were taken from a Yosemite Conservancy Half Dome webcam in late March, starting in 2011 and ending in 2015. Typically around the start of spring, Yosemite's Half Dome is covered in snow. As the years pass, you can see the snowpack fade into the background as the drought takes its toll.

Below are images from the U.S. Drought Monitor that show the state's conditions around the same time the Half Dome pictures were captured. The darker the colors, the more severe the drought. You can see Half Dome, marked by the blue dot, become swallowed by maroon at the end, signalling takeover by exceptional drought.


Side-By-Side Photo Shows Hypocrisy Of Suggesting Women Should Breastfeed In The Bathroom

Side-By-Side Photo Shows Hypocrisy Of Suggesting Women Should Breastfeed In The Bathroom
The Huffington Post | By Caroline Bologna
Posted: 03/10/2015 3:44 pm EDT Updated: 03/10/2015 5:59 pm EDT

When Israeli photographer and mom Tamar Shugert saw 52Frames' "Make A Statement" photo challenge, she knew exactly which topic she wanted to cover for her entry: respect for breastfeeding mothers.

The mom-of-two (and soon-to-be three) told The Huffington Post that although she's never experienced disrespect several friends of hers have been asked to relocate to the bathroom when breastfeeding in public places.

Shugert submitted a side-by-side photo collage -- in one photo, she pretends to breastfeed in her bathroom, and in the other, her husband poses eating spaghetti in the same bathroom. The caption reads in part, "If you are not willing to eat your lunch in the bathroom, then don't expect me to feed my kid there!"...

...Still, the mom hopes viewers can agree with the photo's main message. "Women should not be asked to go feed their children in bathrooms," she said, adding. "Nobody wants to be eating in bathroom. I wouldn't breastfeed in a bathroom even if I was asked to."


AP: 75%-90% of Deaths from Israel's "Precision" Air Strikes Last Summer were Civilians

Fri Mar 13, 2015 at 05:37 AM PDT
AP: 75%-90% of Deaths from Israel's "Precision" Air Strikes Last Summer were Civilians
by Assaf

In my last diary a couple of weeks ago, I promised to be more "in your face", writing more regularly about Gaza rather than wait for the next round of mayhem or warfare. Since then I've been a bit under the weather. Still, it's important to me to put in a Gaza diary before the much-hyped Israeli election completely takes over (I will likely write about it as well). It will be short.

I'm following up on the AP investigative report briefly mentioned last diary. AP looked into Palestinian deaths from air bombings during the summer 2014 war. What they found is sobering (emphases mine).

Manar Majed al-Batsh, 13 years old, was killed on Sunday, July 12, 2014 in Shujaiyya. She was killed along with 17 other members of the al-Batsh family, by an Israeli warplane that hit their house, without prior warning.

The youngest to die was a 4-day-old girl, the oldest a 92-year-old man.

They were among at least 844 Palestinians killed as a result of airstrikes on homes during Israel's summer war with the Islamic militant group, Hamas.

Under the rules of war, homes are considered protected civilian sites unless used for military purposes. Israel says it attacked only legitimate targets, alleging militants used the houses to hide weapons, fighters and command centers. Palestinians say Israel's warplanes often struck without regard for civilians.

The Associated Press examined 247 airstrikes on homes, interviewing witnesses, visiting attack sites and compiling a detailed casualty count. The review found that 508 of the dead — just over 60 percent — were children, women and older men, all presumed to be civilians. Hamas says it did not use women as fighters in the war, and an Israel-based research group tracking militants among the dead said it has no evidence women participated in combat.

The AP count also showed that:

— Children younger than 16 made up one-third of the total: 280 killed, including 19 babies and 108 preschoolers between the ages of 1 and 5.

— In 83 strikes, three or more members of one family died.

— Among those killed were 96 confirmed or suspected militants — or just over 11 percent of the total — though the actual number could be higher since armed groups have not released detailed casualty lists.

The remainder of the 240 dead were males between the ages of 16 and 59 whose names did not appear in connection with militant groups on searches of websites or on street posters honoring fighters.

The review was the most painstaking attempt to date to determine who was killed in strikes on homes in the Gaza war even as Israel's army and Gaza militants have refused to release information about targets and casualties. The count tracked all known airstrikes, but not all strikes had witnesses and damage at sites inspected by the AP wasn't always conclusive.

Making the conservative assumption that in the tight-knit, everybody-knows-everybody Gaza Strip at least half of males aged 16-59 who were not mentioned anywhere as militant-related, were indeed civilians, this means 75%-90% of the air-bombing deaths were civilians. And this is the more precise part of Israel's bombing campaign. The civilian damage from the far less precise ground artillery, used heavily once the ground assault started, was likely worse.

All around the world, armies prefer not to be scrutinized after killing civilians. The governments who sent them will do everything to perpetuate the fog of war, and throw spins of doubt and ridicule at reports like this, until the world forgets.

As my previous post stated, sadly, seems like Israel is in a "great" position to once again completely escape accountability for yet another deluge of civilian deaths. Much of the region is mired in far bloodier mayhem; geopolitically the Palestinians are as weak as ever; Israel itself is obsessed with its election campaign, in which - as I wrote there - Gaza is rarely mentioned, and even when it does it's from a militarist perspective; and the Western press (AP's surprisingly honorable effort notwithstanding) is focusing on other topics.

But these people really did die, at least 1500 civilian deaths from this war that were completely needless.

Summer 2014: 3-week-old twins Mustafa and Ibrahim Al-Ghoul of Rafah. Mustafa was killed shortly thereafter by an Israeli airstrike, together with his dad, grandparents, 2 brothers and 3 uncles and aunts.

9 members of the Al-Ghoul family were killed on Sunday August 3, 2014 in an Israeli airstrike on their home in the Yibna neighborhood of Rafah refugee camp, around 6:20 AM. They were targeted by two F-16 missiles.

1. Ismail Al-Ghoul, 60 years old, was the father of Asmaa, Hanadi, Muhammad, and Wael
2. Khadra Al-Ghoul, 62 years old, was Ismail’s wife and the mother of Asmaa, Hanadi, Muhammad, and Wael
3. Asmaa Al-Ghoul, 22 years old
4. Hanadi Al-Ghoul, 28 years old
5. Muhammad Al-Ghoul, 32 years old
6. Wael Al-Ghoul, 35 years old, was the father of Ismail, Malak, Mustafa and Ibrahim
7. Ismail Wael Al-Ghoul, 11 years old
8. Malak Wael Al-Ghoul, 5 years old
9. Mustafa Wael Al-Ghoul, 24 days old

3-week old twins Mustafa and Ibrahim were born during Israel’s offensive on Gaza in Summer 2014. When the twins were born, a family member wrote: “In Gaza, there is always hope and new life. A door of light and happiness in the middle of this war.” They were described as “two tiny angels, harbingers of hope and joy.”

Following their death, extended family member Asmaa Al-Ghoul wrote

“Endings are so strange, as are living moments that suddenly become relegated to the past. We will never see them again, and the pictures that I took of the twins are now so precious, as one of them, Mustafa, was killed, while the other, Ibrahim, remained alive.

I wonder how they could differentiate between them, for they looked so much alike. Who identified them when their father died and their mother lay wounded in intensive care? Who was Mustafa, and who was Ibrahim? It was as if they had merged upon one twin’s death.”

For much of the war, Israeli propaganda was very busy boasting its superb intelligence services and precision bombing technology, and its meticulous warnings to affected civilians ahead of airstrikes. Then, as it became impossible to deny that the vast majority of deaths are civilians, the very same propaganda turned around and whined that Hamas is hiding among the civilians, and is therefore at fault.

Excuse me? This second spin is admission that

1. Israel's intelligence indicating where and when to bomb, and its warning system, were an abject failure.
2. If indeed, the bombing's sole purpose was to take out Hamas military capabilities, then not only was the bombing itself a failure - but Israel's military has zero mechanisms of professional inspection and self-correction in real time. Envision this: the air bombing campaign - using, let us not forget, US-made warplanes and US-made bombs bought with billions of US taxpayer dollars - lasted 50 days, killing mostly civilians while Hamas retained its ability to launch rockets and mortars and carry out other military operations. And the geniuses of the Israeli military never caught onto their futility and tried to correct it?
3. This of course means that the Israeli propaganda during most of the war, about "precision" and "superb intelligence" was all lies.

Either that, or perhaps avoiding the killing of Palestinian civilians was nowhere near the top of the military's priorities list. Still means the intelligence operations were largely a sham, but at least a sham consistent with the war's actual directives, namely to perpetrate some perverse version of "Shock and Awe".

Given the rhetoric and mindset that accompanied this war's prosecution, unless your head is still buried in the sand this conclusion should come and no surprise.

You can see personal stories of many of the war's dead, on HumanizePalestine, where the pictures and text above are taken from.


GOP+SAE=Racism (AMAZING editorial cartoon)

Thu Mar 12, 2015 at 08:38 PM PDT
GOP+SAE=Racism (AMAZING editorial cartoon)
by Miscweant

I literally (really literally, not Lindsey Graham "literally") gasped at this cartoon from the Salt Lake City Tribune:

attribution: Salt Lake City Tribune
On a bus ride to hell

In one image, the cartoonist Bagley connects two contemporaneous, seemingly different but intimately connected events and reveals the true, diseased soul of the modern Republican Party.


Inspiring images of over 1000 Muslims forming 'ring of peace' around Oslo synagogue

Sun Feb 22, 2015 at 03:16 PM PST
Inspiring images of over 1000 Muslims forming 'ring of peace' around Oslo synagogue
by Ian ReifowitzFollow

If ever a photo was worth a thousand words

That is a beautiful image. Over the weekend, more than 1000 Muslims gathered to form a ring of peace around a synagogue in Oslo, Norway. They both offered a human shield—in the best sense of the term—protecting one of the most visibly Jewish locations in their city, and condemned the murder last week of Dan Uzan, a Danish Jew, at a Copenhagen synagogue. That murder was committed by Omar El-Hussein, a Danish-born son of Palestinian immigrants, as part of an attack that also included shooting up a forum discussing free speech that featured Lars Vilks, who has been the subject of death threats and even assassination plots for having published cartoon depictions of the Prophet Muhammad. Although Vilks escaped unharmed, one person attending the forum died. El-Hussein was pursued, shot, and killed by Danish police.

These Oslo Muslims brought a message of peace and tolerance, one that rejects hate. They chanted: "No to anti-Semitism, no to Islamophobia." Zeeshan Abdullah, who helped organize the event, told the Muslims and Jews gathered together outside the synagogue:

"Humanity is one and we are here to demonstrate that. There are many more peace mongers than warmongers. There’s still hope for humanity, for peace and love, across religious differences and backgrounds."

Seeing these images, I can't help but agree...More photos from the event.

Originally posted to Ian Reifowitz on Sun Feb 22, 2015 at 03:16 PM PST.
Also republished by Kitchen Table Kibitzing.


The Daily Show - Congressman turns THUG - a thing of BEAUTY!!!

(Sorry if this is a dupe. It is a few days old. I haven't had much time for the internet lately, so it may have already made the rounds. Enjoy.)

Florida Representative Turns Thug And DESTROYS Texas During Congress Hearing! Fun
Feb 6, 2015

Alcee Lamar Hastings is the U.S. Representative for Florida. During a recent congress hearing, things between him and a representative from Texas got a little heated and Alcee went total thug. He laid into the Lone Star State, calling it ‘crazy’ and saying he’d never live there and all sorts. And when he’s asked to apologize, he flat out refuses. He might just be the coolest politician you’ve ever seen…


Cenk Uygur: My Ironic Defense of Brian Williams

Mon Feb 09, 2015 at 08:13 PM PST
My Ironic Defense of Brian Williams
by Cenk Uygur

First, let me say very clearly from the beginning that I am biased in this case because I know Brian Williams a tiny bit and he has always been fundamentally decent to me.

On the other hand, I'm the guy who wrote the piece Why Brian Williams is Irrelevant. The current controversy surrounding him ties in well with that article I wrote many years ago. People think that Brian Williams is the problem because he exaggerated a war story about Iraq? Are you kidding me? The whole war was based on a monstrous lie that almost the entire media enabled and perpetuated. That's the real problem.

If the rest of the press scapegoat Williams and feign righteous indignation over his lie, as they are in the middle of doing now, it will be unbearable. Where were all of those people when we were being sold a bill of goods on Iraq? Oh I know, on air. They sold us those lies en masse. So, please don't pretend you have integrity now. Please don't pretend that the real problem is an exaggeration about a tiny story in the middle of the war.

Sixty-nine percent of Americans believed that Saddam Hussein was personally responsible for 9/11 when we invaded Iraq. That is the biggest failure of the media I have ever seen. Has anyone apologized for that yet? Has anyone been fired for that yet? If you want to fire all of the executives and editors who let that lie be sold to the American people through their media outlets, then I'm a 100% with you. Then we can also fire Brian Williams.

Don't get me wrong, Williams was definitely part of that media machine. His much bigger issue is that he never told his audience that he had generals on the air who are being paid by defense contractors to push more war while they pretended to be objective analysts. That's a firing offense! But then you'd have to fire almost everyone at NBC, wouldn't you?

While we're firing people, find me the MSNBC executives who got rid of Phil Donahue and Ashleigh Banfield for speaking out against the war. You fire those guys and Brian Williams at the same time and you've got a deal. But their offense was a thousand percent worse and there was never even a discussion about firing them.

The American people are allowed to be outraged at what Brian Williams said; the people who fought against the lies that got us into the Iraq War are allowed to be outraged; but the establishment press who are part and parcel of that system can go ahead and spare me their contrived, bullshit outrage.

This is how the system covers up for their gross failures. Every once in awhile we are offered a sacrificial lamb on a small issue that is a distraction rather than the heart of the matter. Then the media gets to walk away self-satisfied, with an unbearable smug look on their face -- as if they have ethics. Your ethics amuse me. Your faux concern over this issue is vomitous.

If there is someone in the mainstream media that didn't cheerlead for far more egregious lies that got us into the Iraq War, let them be the first to pick up a stone. The rest of you sitting in your giant glass house, either fire yourselves or shut the fuck up.

Watch The Young Turks Here

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